Spatial Information Technology, Globalization and International Development

Graduate course, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, 2018

GIS methods and technologies are being developed and applied to problems around the world and across an increasing array of diverse fields. Since their inception, GIS have been a tool for planning and resource allocation, initially within large government departments and corporations in land and resource management sectors. More recently, GIS and spatial technologies have become common in firms and sectors of all sizes; as society becomes increasingly data-driven and algorithm-regulated. This course explores the interface of humans and GIS from several inter-related perspectives; users, developers, managers, etc. We will explore different theories and frameworks related to the application of technology to social problems generally, including expert systems, fuzzy logic, cybernetics, and complexity theory in addition to specific proposals from the GIScience community such as PPGIS, VGI, and critical approaches to big data. As well, a handful of case studies from a variety of contexts (local, regional, international) will be examined throughout the course.

Course Goal and Learning Outcomes The goal of this course is to provide a critical understanding of how GIS and spatial data/analytical methods are operationalized, and the subsequent implications for society. The specific learning objectives for this course are:

  1. Review the historical development of GIS
  2. Develop a critical understanding of the strengths and challenges of technology in specific contexts for different stakeholders
  3. Develop skills in literature review, synthesis, and application of concepts from the GIScience literature to specific socio-technical contexts
  4. Describe common management issues associated with GIS and spatial technologies